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Friday briefing: Freeze warning, I-74 bridge progress slow going, swanky new hotel, and Moline police go green

Friday briefing: Freeze warning, I-74 bridge progress slow going, swanky new hotel, and Moline police go green

NWS: Freeze

Did you step out this morning equipped with a warm jacket? If not, you're gonna wish you had as temps are expected remain in the 40s along with some strong, gusty west winds.

Here's the latest from the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service has upgraded its Freeze Watch to a Freeze Warning for the Quad-City region. That warning is in effect from 1 a.m., Saturday until 9 a.m., Sunday.

According to the freeze warning, "The coldest air of the season will settle into the region tonight with temperatures expected to drop into the upper 20s to lower 30s. These cold temperatures could kill any unprotected sensitive vegetation across the region and bring an end to the growing season."

• Temperatures: Widespread temperatures in the lower 30s, and potential for some spots to fall into the upper 20s.

• Timing: Late Friday evening through early Saturday morning.

• Impacts: Freezing conditions will kill crops, other sensitive vegetation and possibly damage unprotected outdoor plumbing.

A Freeze Warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely. Cover sensitive plants or bring indoors for protection. To prevent freezing and possible bursting of outdoor water pipes they should be wrapped, drained, or allowed to drip slowly.

Today: Patchy drizzle, breezy and blustery

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Today look for patchy drizzle with a chance of showers before 11 a.m. then a slight chance of showers between 11 a.m. and noon. Skies will be cloudy then gradually becoming mostly sunny and breezy with a high near 46 degrees. A west wind  between 15 to 20 mph will gust as high as 30 mph. The chance of precipitation is 30%.

Tonight will be mostly clear and breezy with a low around 31 degrees. West winds will gust as high as 20 mph.

Saturday: Sunny and breezy with a high near 54 degrees and a low around 39 degrees. Southwest winds between 10 to 15 mph will increase to 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.

NWS: Flooding

Some area rivers remain above flood stage.

Area river levels

Seasons Greetings: Winter storm pounds Central Plains

Wintry Weather

MaKenzie Gregory scrapes ice off her vehicle's front windshield as snow continues to fall in Scottsbluff, Neb., Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Gregory said she didn't know it was going to snow that much. (Lauren Brant/The Star-Herald via AP)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A frigid storm moving through the Great Plains on Thursday forced school closures, caused travel headaches and put farmers and ranchers on edge.

Winter storm warnings and watches stretched from Wyoming and Montana through western Nebraska and into the Dakotas and Minnesota. The storm was expected to blast the region with strong winds and dump at least 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow in areas. Blizzardlike conditions could persist through Friday, forecasters said.

Blowing and drifting snow was making travel hazardous, with wind gusts approaching 40 mph (64 kph) in some areas.

The National Weather Service in Bismarck, North Dakota, said a "potentially historic October winter storm" was in the making.

Dozens of school districts canceled classes or started late in South Dakota and western Nebraska, including Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.

North Dakota Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring said the snow on top of a wet autum was causing "a great deal of anxiety" for farmers and ranchers. He urged those in emotional distress to reach out for help.

People in some communities had to put aside their rakes for snow shovels.

"The ground is warm underneath, so soon as you scoop it the sidewalks are clear," said Drew Petersen, who owns a drugstore in Chadron, where more than 5 inches (13 centimeters) had fallen.

Petersen said his out-of-town employees made it to work, but they said the roads were snow-covered and slushy.

Forecasters predicted a foot (31 centimeters) of snow or more would fall in parts of the Dakotas through Friday and nearly that amount would fall in Nebraska.

In Fargo, North Dakota, the homecoming parade was cancelled a day ahead of time at North Dakota State University, where its top-ranked Football Championship Subdivision team was set to play Saturday inside the warm confines of the Fargodome. Police in North Dakota's capital city of Bismarck responded to at least 35 traffic crashes on Thursday.

Snow fell in Colorado's mountains through Thursday afternoon, which was a welcome sight for skiers and snowboarders waiting for resorts to open for the season. It turned into an ugly commute for drivers in Denver, where about 100 crashes were reported during rush hour and where police warned people on twitter to "keep your wits about you."

Temperatures that reached the upper 70s (mid-20s Celsius) in Denver on Wednesday afternoon had plummeted into the 20s on Thursday. National Weather Service forecasters predicted 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 centimeters) of snow in the Denver area Thursday and warned that freezing temperatures would persist along the Interstate 25 corridor and the Eastern Plains through Friday.

The storm had dropped 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow on the west side of Rapid City, South Dakota, according to weather service forecasters, and up to 2 more inches were expected before the storm headed northeast.

Winter storms arriving just three weeks into fall aren't unusual, but they can blow into howling blizzards. Hintz recalled an October 2013 storm in which hundreds of cattle perished. Snow reached 55 inches (1.4 meters) deep in the South Dakota community of Lead.

The storm left 32,000 customers without power in Washington state Wednesday.

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Frank Fritz
Frank Fritz